NCAA Football

Can Dabo Swinney Get Redemption for 2011 Orange Bowl Embarrassment?

Clemson's 70-33 Orange Bowl loss to West Virginia will always be remembered as one of the more pathetic displays of defense in the history of college football.

On such a big stage, with fans watching all around the country, allowing 70 points was a massive embarrassment for a program hoping to impress in its first BCS game. But the point of this piece isn't to stew over the past. It happened and it made Clemson look bad. But we're now two full years removed from the contest, and the Tigers are staring down a chance to make people forget all about it.

On Friday night (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN), head coach Dabo Swinney's squad will get its shot to take down Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Would it be redemption for the previous Orange Bowl failure? Absolutely. Especially when you consider that Ohio State was one win away from potentially playing in the BCS title game. This year's Buckeye team has a strong running game, led by Carlos Hyde and an athletic, dual-threat freak at quarterback in Braxton Miller.

And for everybody who questioned Ohio State following its loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship, you may want to check out what the Spartans did to Stanford in the Rose Bowl. Make no mistake—this is an elite Buckeyes team with one loss of the season to a Michigan State club that will almost certainly finish the season ranked in the top three.

If you're still not convinced that a win over Ohio State means something, consider Urban Meyer's track record in BCS games.

It began when he was the head coach at Utah, as his Utes dominated Pittsburgh 35-7 back in 2005 to score the first BCS win by a team from a non-AQ conference. Meyer's Florida teams won three BCS games, including a pair of national titles.

The Buckeyes may have fallen in the public eye after losing back-to-back national championships during the '00s, but many forget the team responded with a Rose Bowl win over Oregon and a Sugar Bowl victory against Arkansas.

But the real question isn't about whether or not a win would help erase nightmarish Orange Bowl memories for Swinney. It would clearly be a landmark win for a program that hopes to maintain ground in the ACC arms race with Florida State.

The bigger question is a much simpler one: can the Tigers actually pull this thing off?

Clemson began the season with a victory over fifth-ranked Georgia that resonated on a national level. The Bulldogs lost several games toward the end of the year, but that was due, in large part, to a rash of freak injuries on both sides of the ball.

The Tigers knocked off Mark Richt's team when it was fully loaded and coming off a narrow loss in the 2012 SEC Championship game to Alabama.

The problem is that that may have been the high point of the Tigers' entire season. Quarterback Tajh Boyd and company only faced two ranked teams the rest of the way. They were outscored by a combined total of 82-31 in those contests, which came against Florida State and South Carolina.

However, the common denominator in both of those losses is that they came against teams boasting elite defenses. While the Buckeyes allow just over 20 points per game, they gave up 34 at Cal, 35 at Illinois, 30 at Northwestern and 41 at Michigan.

That doesn't bode well when preparing to face a Tigers team that is averaging more than 40 a game.

But the pendulum can easily swing back the other way when you consider a second factor in both losses during the regular season: the presence of a dual-threat quarterback on the opposing sideline.

Jameis Winston threw for 444 yards and three touchdowns in the Seminoles' victory in Death Valley. South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw threw for 152 yards and rushed for another 94 in the Gamecocks' win against Swinney's club.

Of course, neither performance even sniffs at what West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith churned out in the aforementioned Orange Bowl. Smith threw for over 400 yards and six touchdowns while tacking on an additional 26 yards rushing.

A defense shouldn't be judged on something that occurred two years ago, but there's a definitive pattern in the losses Clemson has suffered in recent years. And wouldn't you know it, Braxton Miller fits the exact definition of a dual-threat quarterback. In this season, Miller has over 1,000 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns, and he missed the better part of three games.

A counterargument here might point to the fact that dual-threat quarterbacks with wins over Clemson on their resume also have proven arms. And Miller, without a single 300-yard passing game this season, does not. Which means that even a hit-and-miss Tigers' secondary should have the upper hand against a passing attack that isn't all that lethal.

The key will be stopping Miller and the rest of the backfield from building momentum in the ground game—something that few teams have been able to do. It requires disciplined play and sure tackling, and should the Buckeyes churn out some punishing drives early on, it could spell doom.

After you analyze every aspect of this game, however, the final piece of the puzzle comes down to motivation. In that area, Clemson should hold a distinct advantage. Sure, there was the disappointment of losing to South Carolina, and state bragging rights won't be up for grabs for another 11 months.

But the Tigers weren't going to play for a national title, anyway, due to the loss against Florida State. And Clemson, despite all the talent that has touched Howard's Rock over the past decade, has yet to win a BCS game. Which puts it behind such teams as Oregon State, Iowa and even Kansas. It's quarterback Tajh Boyd's final game, and a win would be remembered by fans for years to come.

Over at Ohio State, there might be a hangover effect from losing the Big Ten championship, which removed the Buckeyes from title contention. This clearly wasn't the preferred destination for Meyer and company when the season began. And though they'll be looking for a win to perhaps jump-start the 2014 season, the motivation level won't be anywhere near what it is for Clemson.

Does a win provide redemption for the Orange Bowl disaster against West Virginia? Yes. Can Clemson beat Ohio State to send Boyd and the rest of the senior class off on a high note? Yes, because the talent is there and the team has proven the ability to win big games (see LSU in 2012).

Will it play out that way? That's the beauty of college football, because in this one, anyone showing complete certainty in their prediction could be in for a rude awakening. Just ask Baylor, or perhaps the Florida team that fell to Louisville in last year's Sugar Bowl.

This wouldn't be an upset of that magnitude, but it would be the most significant step forward in years for a program that has remained on the cusp of greatness for so long. Redemption is there to be had, and Clemson fans can only hope the team shows up locked and loaded, ready to further build up a program that appears to be very much on the rise.

 

All stats via ESPN

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5-Star RB Leonard Fournette Commits, Saves Day for LSU at UA All-America Game

Leonard Fournette has never played a down of tackle football in a college uniform. But the New Orleans high school legend has already turned into the savior of LSU football.  

Fournette, the No. 1 high school recruit in the country according to the 247 Composite Rankings, announced his commitment to LSU at the Under Armour High School All-American Game. He chose the Tigers over Alabama and Texas. 

Fournette saved a rough day for LSU head coach Les Miles. The high school all-star game was tabbed as "5 for 5" by LSU fans, as five 5-star recruits made their college commitment with the Tigers as finalists. 

Wide receiver Speedy Noil, defensive lineman Gerald Willis and cornerback Tony Brown spurned LSU for Alabama, Florida and Texas A&M, respectively. 

Fournette was joined by safety Jamal Adams in choosing LSU. Adams strengthens a defensive back class that was already one of the best the Tigers have ever had.   

Noil, Willis and Brown are all special talents that LSU will miss. But all of their announcements came before Fournette. His decision means the most. 

The Tigers will more than likely be without All-SEC running back Jeremy Hill next season. Hill's backups are solid, but not special players. Fournette can be the difference-maker the Tigers need on offense with a new starting quarterback under center. 

If Fournette were to not choose LSU, social media in Baton Rouge would have taken it harder than a loss to Alabama. But his commitment was massive considering the Tigers went 2-of-5 on their 5-star targets. 

 

Fournette's commitment means as much for morale as anything else. LSU fans on social media began to melt down as Noil, Willis and Brown committed elsewhere. But Fournette ended the day with a bang.

Miles did anything he could to get Fournette, including subtweeting him. He knows how important the St. Augustine running back is for LSU's future. 

Fournette said on Twitter he will be wearing jersey No. 7. He will be the first to wear the number at LSU since Heisman finalist Tyrann Mathieu in 2011. 

I ain't wearing 5 in college I'm wearing 7 💯

— LeonardFournette (@_fournette) January 1, 2014

Verbal commitments are never official with universities. Nothing is finalized until national signing day. LSU fans must remember most players can still sign anywhere they may please in early February. 

But LSU fans don't care. They will probably put the No. 7 replica on back order by the end of the day.   

Fournette is already an LSU legend. Not only for Tigers fans, but Miles as well. 

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Orange Bowl 2014: Why Every Big Ten Fan Must Root for Ohio State

That's right, every Big Ten Conference fan—yes, even those of you wearing blue up in Michigan—should be rooting for the Ohio State Buckeyes to take down Clemson in the Orange Bowl.

And looking back at Michigan's 31-14 drubbing at the hands of Kansas State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Wolverines fans should especially be pulling for their archrival.

The league has been a noted laughingstock in the postseason with an 8-15 record over the past three seasons, including a 2-4 mark this year. Add in two losses by future Big Ten members Maryland and Rutgers, and the league's outlook is even worse.

So as painful as it might be for Big Ten fans, the conference could use an Orange Bowl victory—even after Michigan State's momentous Rose Bowl win over Stanford.

Going into that contest, the league was 1-9 in the last 10 Rose Bowls and was just 1-4 in this bowl season. The only win came by Nebraska over a depleted Georgia squad in the Gator Bowl. And when the Spartans fell down 10-0 to Stanford, it looked like it would be another stumble for the conference on the big stage.

However, MSU stormed back and brought home an enormous 24-20 win behind a gutsy defensive effort and a massive day from quarterback Connor Cook.

Afterward, defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said he was "fired up for the Big Ten."

The Broyles Award winner had reason to be amped for his league, which was starving for even a sliver of national respect.

As the Big Ten champion Spartans topped the Pac-12 champion Cardinal, it was Step One for the league this postseason—and now Ohio State will have its chance to carry the torch for the conference.

While MSU's win was about grabbing some positive recognition for the league, OSU's tilt with Clemson will be more about maintaining its reputation.

A victory over the Tigers won't put the Big Ten on the map. Clemson was crushed by South Carolina in its regular-season finale and was clearly far behind ACC champion Florida State.

Meanwhile, Ohio State was expected to not only win the Big Ten but compete for a national title as well. The Buckeyes fell short of both goals but are still seen as a top-tier team, right alongside the Spartans and the best teams from around the country.

OSU will be favored heading into the game. The Buckeyes opened at minus-5 favorites but have seen that drop to minus-3, per VegasInsider.com.

If they leave Miami with an upset loss to Clemson, it will look poor for them and the Big Ten.

The ACC is the only major conference that has looked as bad as the Big Ten this bowl season. The league is 3-6 thus far, though one of those wins—Syracuse's defeat of Minnesota—came over a Big Ten team.

If Ohio State can take down Clemson, it'll render that result void and give the Big Ten a major bump over the ACC.

With the SEC still the SEC and the Pac-12 posting an overall impressive bowl season, Ohio State stands as the last chance for the Big Ten to show that it isn't the slow, old man's conference that it is often perceived to be.

Big Ten fans don't have to admit to actually rooting for the Buckeyes; they can just say, "I'm rooting for the Big Ten." Semantics aside, the league needs another BCS victory.

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Winners and Losers of the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game

Several top recruits, including No. 1 overall prospect Leonard Fournette, made their commitment announcements at the Under Armour All-America Game in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Thursday.

While LSU was a big winner by pulling in Fournette, the Tigers missed on several other top recruits, including in-state target Speedy Noil, which made the day less than perfect for Les Miles and company.

Noil pulled the trigger for Texas A&M and had an enormous performance on the field. One of his fellow Aggies also shined at Tropicana Field on Thursday.

Team Highlight, coached by Steve Mariucci, topped Herm Edwards' Team Nitro, 31-21.

Click on to see which programs won the recruiting tug-o-war, which prospects shined and which teams suffered heartbreak.

 

Note: All ratings based on the 247Sports Composite Rankings, unless otherwise noted.

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Rich Rodriguez Shows Arizona is On Rise Landing School's First 5-Star Recruit

Arizona just joined the ranks of big-boy college football with the commitment of 5-star cornerback Jalen Tabor, who announced on national TV his intention to head to Tucson over Tuscaloosa.

Tabor, from Friendship Academy in Washington, D.C., would be the school's first ever 5-star signee, according to the Arizona Daily Star's Daniel Berk, and joins a recruiting class that already includes 4-star wide receiver/defensive back Cameron Denson, running back Nick Wilson and linebackers Jamardre Cobb and Marquise Ware, not to mention five 3-star junior college players who have already signed letters of intent.

Arizona now sits in 16th place in 247sports.com's rankings for the 2014 recruiting class with 28 commitments or signees, by far the highest ranking the school has ever had since online recruiting services became en vogue.

That also puts the Wildcats ahead of Oregon (17th), Arizona State (21st), Stanford (24th) and USC (28th) with just over a month before national signing day.

Previously just a school that tried to get a few good kids out of its home state and whatever it could grab from the second tier of California or Texas, Arizona has made a hard push to be a national recruiter under Rich Rodriguez. Besides Tabor, Arizona has commits from Jonathan Haden, a 3-star all-purpose back and Tabor's teammate at Friendship Academy, along with 3-star Florida offensive tackle Levi Walton, 3-star Oregon WR Jordan Morgan and 3-star kicker Josh Pollack from Illinois.

Some of those far-away recruits showed their excitement on Twitter at the prospect of playing alongside Tabor:

What might be the most telling part of Arizona's landing of Tabor is the process Rich Rodriguez and his assistants went through to get him.

Tabor's official visit came during one of the lowest points of the Wildcats' season, when they lost at home to Washington State (a week before blowing out Oregon at home), but safety Will Parks and receiver Cayleb Jones, a transfer from Texas who sat out this season, must have made a good enough impression for Tabor to tell the Arizona Daily Star they are "like my best friends now."

Rodriguez told reporters he repeatedly checked in on Tabor and Haden to make sure Arizona's interest was still there, the kind of persistence that either reeks of desperation or leads to landing big-time recruits.

For Arizona, it proved to be the latter. And coming off back-to-back 8-5 seasons and consecutive bowl victories, the Wildcats look to be continuing on the rise.

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Rich Rodriguez Shows Arizona is On Rise Landing School's First 5-Star Recruit

Arizona just joined the ranks of big-boy college football with the commitment of 5-star cornerback Jalen Tabor, who announced on national TV his intention to head to Tucson over Tuscaloosa...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Wisconsin Football: 5 Best Moments of 2013

It was a bitter, frustrating finish to the 2013 season for Wisconsin football when it fell to South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl on New Year's Day. An injury to Joel Stave and several missed opportunities were too much for the Badgers to overcome as they finished 9-4 in Gary Andersen's inaugural season.

Wisconsin will bid farewell to some of the best players to ever don the cardinal and white, including James White, Jared Abbrederis and Chris Borland. While it will be difficult to replace such notable players, there is still plenty of talent returning, and Andersen has amped up the recruiting at Wisconsin.

Many feel there is reason for optimism in Madison and that the Badgers are just a few breaks away from becoming a national contender.

For as disappointing as the end result was in 2013, the moments created by those remarkable players that will look to thrive at the next level, as well as some that will return to Wisconsin in 2014, are some we'll never forget. Let's keep that optimistic vibe going and relive the five best moments of 2013 for Wisconsin football.

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Grading the Top 10 Recruits from the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game

No disrespect to the Army All-American Game, which is plenty important in its own right, but no high school all-star exhibition holds a candle to the one hosted each year by Under Armour.

The top 14 players on the 247Sports composite participated in this year's spectacle, though ninth-ranked Tony Brown missed the actual game with an injury sustained in practice. Of the top 21 recruits in the nation, only quarterback Kyle Allen and running backs Joe Mixon and Sony Michel didn't attend.

It's tough to launch a career in an all-star game, with so many rules in place to sanitize the game and keep players healthy. Still, a guy like Vernon Hargreaves III kickstarted an All-American campaign in St. Petersburg, Fla., last season, so the game is not quite meaningless, either.

These grades shouldn't be taken as an end-all, be-all scouting metric. Even those who didn't make a statement on Thursday remain 5-star guys.

Regardless, here's a look at how the top 10 participating players performed.

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Sugar Bowl 2014 Oklahoma vs. Alabama: Live Game Grades, Analysis for the Tide

Two of college football’s most storied programs kick off the 2014 Sugar Bowl at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN, with No. 3 Alabama set to take on No. 11 Oklahoma in the Louisiana Superdome.

The game features a battle of wits between two of the top coaches in Alabama’s Nick Saban and Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, who last met on the same field in the 2003 BCS title game. 

The Tide, led by senior quarterback AJ McCarron, will try to win their third consecutive BCS bowl. Meanwhile, the Sooners will look to pick up their first BCS victory since beating UConn 48-20 in the 2011 Fiesta Bowl. 

Considering both teams will return plenty of firepower in 2014, the team that emerges victorious tonight will enter the offseason with a ton of momentum.  

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Arkansas Football: 5 Unforgettable Moments from Razorbacks' 2013 Season

Well, 2013 is now officially over, and what a year it was for college football. From Auburn's miracle ending against Alabama to Nebraska's Hail Mary versus Northwestern, there were no shortage of great moments in another spectacular year on the gridiron.

However, 2013 wasn't great for all programs. 

The Arkansas Razorbacks struggled all season long in head coach Bret Bielema's first year guiding the team, stumbling to a 3-9 (0-8 SEC) record. For the first time since joining the SEC, the Hogs failed to win a conference game and finished the year on a nine-game losing streak, also a first.

In all of the jumbled mess 2013 was for Arkansas, it might be tough to find moments that are worth remembering. But, even in a bad year, there are things that stand out among the rest.

Here, we take a look at the five most unforgettable moments, not all good, from the Razorbacks' season, leading up to the most memorable of 2013.

 

Bryan Heater is the featured columnist for Arkansas Razorbacks. Follow him on Twitter @BHeaterRivals.

 

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Sugar Bowl 2014 Oklahoma vs. Alabama: Live Game Grades, Analysis for the Sooners

The Oklahoma Sooners will get a chance to end their three-game bowl losing streak against the SEC when they take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

The Sooners are coming off a 33-24 win over rival Oklahoma State and are on a three-game winning streak. Alabama is coming off a heartbreaking loss to rival Auburn and looks to end its season on a high note.

So, who will come out on top?

For full stats, check out NCAA.com.

 

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Sugar Bowl 2014: Live Score and Highlights for Oklahoma vs. Alabama

The Alabama Crimson Tide are heavy favorites in the 2014 Sugar Bowl vs. Oklahoma tonight at 8:30 PM ET on ESPN, but don’t believe for a second that this won’t be an entertaining showdown. 

Big 12 vs. SEC football is sure to provide plenty of excitement tonight, as both Alabama and Oklahoma have some superb talent on their rosters.

Of course, Nick Saban and the Tide would rather be playing in the BCS National Championship, but the greatest play in Iron Bowl history kept them from winning the SEC, resulting in a trip to New Orleans for a battle against “Big Game” Bob Stoops.

The Sooners’ head coach made some interesting comments about the SEC this offseason, and now he has a chance to prove that the Big 12 is in fact a better conference.

However, AJ McCarron and company won’t make it easy on him.

Keep it locked right here to Bleacher Report for live score updates, highlights from the game and much more! 

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Leonard Fournette to LSU: Tigers Land 5-Star RB Prospect

LSU got one of the biggest commitments of the year when Leonard Fournette decided to join the program on Thursday.

The 5-star running back likely could have attended any school in the country, and he received offers from most major SEC and ACC schools. In the end, however, he wanted to play for the Tigers.

Playing his high school ball in New Orleans, Fournette carved out quite a reputation for himself as an elite prospect. According to 247Sports' composite rankings, he is not only the top running back in the 2014 class but also the No. 1 overall recruit in the nation.

This lofty praise is mostly due to his unbelievable high school numbers. In 2012, the St. Augustine High School star rushed for 2,136 yards and 31 touchdowns on 196 carries, good for 10.9 yards per attempt. He added 313 yards and three scores on 15 receptions as well.

Over his four years in high school, he has totaled 7,620 yards and 88 touchdowns on the ground.

Listed at 6'1" and 226 pounds, he has the size and strength to go up the middle and break tackles to get the tough yards. Impressively, he also has enough acceleration and top speed to turn the small runs into huge gains.

In the open field, he can use his elite vision to find open holes and reach the end zone whenever he touches the football.

Albert Breer of the NFL Network offered some high praise for the running back after watching him play last year:

While LSU has other running backs on the roster, the Louisiana native has the ability to step on the field almost immediately. With his unique skill set, he should be able to succeed at the college level right away.

With this commitment, the Tigers secured a lot of winning days for the next few years.

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No. 1 RB Leonard Fournette Commits to LSU: Meet the Next Adrian Peterson

Leonard Fournette has announced his commitment to LSU at the Under Armour All-America Game. He is the No. 1 running back in the 2014 class and has the skills to be an instant impact player for the Tigers offense. 

Coming out of high school, he was drawing comparisons to Adrian Peterson. That's pretty lofty praise, but Fournette has the speed, vision and power to back it up.

Watch Adam Kramer and Michael Felder break down Fournette's game. 

 

Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital.

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Tony Brown to Alabama: Crimson Tide Land 5-Star CB Prospect

Arguably the best high school prospect in the state of Texas is spreading his wings, as 5-star cornerback Tony Brown officially committed to Alabama.

Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports provides details:

Like all Class of 2014 recruits, Brown's commitment is only verbal. He can change his mind at any time between now and the beginning of the national signing period without penalty. 

Still, after nearly every major program in the country expressed interest, it's hard to see anyone swaying him from Alabama at this juncture.

Brown is considered the ninth-best prospect overall and third-best cornerback in the Class of 2014 by 247Sports' composite rankings. The Ozen High School standout received over 20 scholarship offers before giving official visits to LSU, USC, Texas, Alabama and Ohio State.

From almost the beginning of the process, it felt like Brown was predisposed to becoming a Tiger despite his Texas upbringing. By the time December rolled around, 247Sports' Crystal Ball indicated that he was 100 percent locked into coming to Baton Rouge. 

And it's not hard to see why.

Since taking over the Tigers post, Les Miles has developed a reputation of developing elite defensive back talent. Morris Claiborne and Patrick Peterson both parlayed their time under Miles into being first-round draft choices, and it's possible Tyrann Mathieu would have done the same had it not been for off-the-field issues. Alabama, Texas and Ohio State aren't exactly bereft of NFL-worthy talent, but LSU's recent track record speaks for itself.

Nevertheless, a late push from Alabama wound up swaying Brown enough to change the entire process.

The Crimson Tide get a player who could step in from the moment he arrives. Listed at 6'0" and 188 pounds, Brown has a ready-built body and enough speed to atone for mistakes caused by inexperience. While not an official time, multiple recruiting sites, including 247Sports, list his 40-yard dash time at 4.35—among the quickest in the entire nation. 

He's also already a very good cover corner and able to move around the defense depending on the situation. Watching Brown's highlight reels, his ability to make big plays stands out most of all. High school quarterbacks just weren't able to account for his closing speed, leading to interceptions and last-minute breakups.

Brown was a 2014 U.S. Army All-American Bowl selection. He's also a talented track and field athlete, specifically, an elite-level hurdler who could have had a career in the sport if it weren't for football. 

His tackling could use some improvement, which may be the top factor preventing him from getting extensive playing time as a freshman. But no matter what happens in 2014, Brown should be a staple defensively sooner rather than later.

 

Follow Tyler Conway on Twitter:

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What 5-Star CB Tony Brown Means to Alabama Crimson Tide

Tony Brown has committed to Alabama at the Under Armour All-America Game. The 5-star cornerback has the ability to make an instant impact for the Crimson Tide, whose secondary could definitely use the addition.

Watch Barrett Sallee break down what this commitment means to the Alabama Crimson Tide. 

 

*Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital.

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Gerald Willis III Commits to Florida over LSU, Mother Upset Again

Five-star defensive tackle Gerald Willis III announced his commitment to Florida over LSU during the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game as his mother, April Justin, tried to hide her disappointment.

Willis III is the brother of Alabama safety Landon Collins, who announced his commitment during the 2012 Under Armour All-America Game. As you can see, Ms. Justin—an admitted fan of SEC rival LSU—wasn't too happy with that decision either. 

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Jalen Tabor to Arizona: Wildcats Land 5-Star CB Prospect

Arizona has landed coveted 5-star cornerback Jalen Tabor according to CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman:

Tabor—the top prospect coming out of Washington, D.C. in the class of 2014—is the fourth-best cornerback in the nation according to 247Sports.com's composite rankings. He is listed as the 24th-best recruit overall in the country.

Tabor, who plays high school football at the Friendship Academy in the nation's capital, had received offers from Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Maryland and Florida State among several other top programs.

At 6'1", 182 pounds, Tabor has the body to excel as an elite defensive back at the college level. His speed and aggressive style of play set him apart from other prospects at his position. Tabor also has long arms which make him more of a threat with the ball in the air.

Although he is considered one of the Class of 2014's best cover corners, Tabor certainly has potential at safety as well. He has tremendous ball skills and the speed to keep up with quicker wide receivers. Don't be surprised if you see him also playing a huge role on special teams as a return man.

With that in mind, it will be interesting to see where his college coaches decide to play him in the coming years.

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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Gerald Willis to Florida: Gators Land 5-Star DE Prospect

The Florida Gators have landed coveted 5-star defensive end prospect Gerald Willis.

Thomas Goldkamp of 247Sports passes along the news:

Willis is listed as the second-best player at his position in the Class of 2014 and the No. 21 overall recruit in the nation, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. He's the fifth-best prospect coming out of Louisiana this year. 

After excelling in high school for Edna Karr in New Orleans, Willis received offers from Florida, Texas A&M, Alabama and Arkansas, among others, with the Tigers the expected favorite to land his commitment. Ultimately, he felt Florida was the best fit. 

A 6'3", 275-pound stud, Willis demonstrates plenty of versatility up front on the defensive line. He is probably best suited as a strong-side defensive end, but it wouldn't be that surprising if his college coaches played him some at defensive tackle.

Willis boasts tremendous strength and athleticism. His huge senior season helped lead Edna Karr High School to the Louisiana Class 4A state championship.

The rough-and-tumble Southeastern Conference will surely test Willis in the coming years, however. It's no secret that many of the best athletes in college football reside in the SEC, so Willis will be expected to help make a difference from the get-go.

Either way, Willis has a bright future ahead. He possesses all of the physical attributes necessary to be a dominant pass-rusher at the college level, and he'll be playing on a stage where he's sure to gain notice.

As long as Willis remains focused, stays on track and gets stronger and quicker, he's no doubt headed for stardom.

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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Jamal Adams Uses a Baby to Announce Commitment to LSU

Five-star safety recruit Jamal Adams announced his commitment to LSU during the Under Armour All-America Game by holding up his niece, who was donned in purple and gold.

The little girl couldn't get enough of the microphone. 

Here's another look at Adams' niece, via Louisiana's Sports Channel anchor Jacques Doucet:

Adams also made the mistake of announcing his commitment to "The University of LSU":

The No. 2 overall safety recruit was also considering Florida before committing to the Tigers.

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